Before describing quite how groups like Quest help lesbian and gay Catholics to live lives of sexual integrity, when need to consider the entire concept in Catholic teaching, an important element applicable to people of any orientation. This is spelled out clearly in the Catechism, that sexuality is an important part of our human make – up, which needs to be integrated into our personalities.
“Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity.” (2333)
“Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.
Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another” (2337)
But for lesbian and gay Catholics, is internally self – contradictory. The Catechism extracts quoted above continue by stating that this integration of sexuality within our person can only take place within the context of complemetarity and heterosexual marriage.
Yet, the Vatican accepts that for people who have a natural same – sex orientation, heterosexual marriage is not recommended, and does not endorse any attempt at conversion therapy. So, for gay and lesbian people, we are told that like everyone else, we must acknowledge and accept our sexual identity, and integrate our sexuality into our human person. But we are simultaneously told that this can only be within heterosexual marriage – which is not recommended for us.
Vatican documents also state that it is important to take account of the findings of science (both natural and social sciences), and accepts the well – established findings of science that a same – sex affectional orientation is entirely natural, concluding therefore that the orientatiom in itslf is not sinful. There is a widespread, and growing, recognition by many bishops, and statements from bishops’ conferences, that there is value in any loving and committed relationships, of any kind (same – sex or opposite sex), and notable acceptance by some leading cardinals and bishops even of legal recognition and protection for these relationships, in civil unions or partnerships (but not full marriage). But, says the institutional church, these relationships must be fully celibate, with no genital expression. This important qualification is in conflict with the Catechism’s own insistence that sexuality must be integrated into the human psyche, and with the findings of science that sexual expression in loving relationships confers distinct benefits to both physical and mental health
This circle cannot easily be squared. To do so, lesbian and gay Catholics need mutual help and support, in prayerful reflection, sharing, worship and study. The Ignatian tradition of spirituality (the tradition with which I am personally most familiar), teaches that prayerful reflection on our life experience, day by day, week by week or year by year, taking note of the movements of consolation and desolation, is one way in which we can learn to pray not only by speaking to the Lord, but also to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking directly to our hearts. In the Jesuit – inspired CLC movement, the Christian Life Communities, small groups get together for weekly meetings, in which to engage in this formal discernment of the Holy Spirit working in their lives, by prayerful faith sharing, reflection and discussion,
Quite how Quest does this, will be published later today.
- Come Out, Stand Proud (The Catechism Commands It)
- A New Beginning for Gay Catholics and the Scottish Church? (queeringthechurch.com)
- Has the Catholic Church Already Embraced the Sexual Revolution? (queeringthechurch.com)
- The Catholic Heterosexual Lobby (queeringthechurch.com)
- Some Very Queer Saints and Martyrs (questgaycatholic.org.uk)
- CELIBATE BUT NOT CHASTE??? CHASTE BUT NOT CELIBATE??? A Quick Catholic “Snapshot” of SSA Theology (catholicboyrichard2.wordpress.com)
- The Gay Catholic Quest for Dignity, Integrity. (queeringthechurch.com)
- U.S. Bishops on Pope Francis’ Gay-Positive Comments – Part 1 (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Measuring the Bishops’ Disconnect on Same – Sex Relationships. (queeringthechurch.com)
- Quest Statement concerning recent remarks by Pope Francis (questgaycatholic.org.uk)